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How to break into the Private Chef market?!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone


I did some searches on private chef topics but all the posts were pretty old so I wanted to start a new one and ask for help in my specific situation.


Just as a quick background of my experience: I went to the Cordon Bleu Program in Florida from 2005-2006 and since then have worked and staged at some pretty well know places including stages at Noma and elBulli, and have worked in NYC at Per Se, Momofuku and for Daniel Boulud's restaurant group among others.


I got burned out of the chef lifestyle and lack of benefits and bad schedules and landed a more corporate job last December as a lead line cook with Restaurant Associates for an executive private dining facility at a big finance firm. Things are good, and I am enjoying some of the perks like weekends and holidays off, better pay and benefits.


Still I have always had a big desire to go off on my own and work as a private chef for a family somewhere here in the city. I am sure there are hundreds of potential employers here in NYC, yet I am at a blank with how to even get in. I had a friend that did it for a lady on the Upper East Side years ago and he said it is extremely hard to get that first job, but once you are in you're set for life.


I sent applications to about 3 agencies I found through internet searches last November and to my surprise, all of them turned me down nicely saying that I lacked previous private chef experience! And every add I rarely find on craigslist for private chef jobs specifically ask for at least 5 years experience and family references.


So my question is, how the hell can I make the move to private chef if no one even gives me a chance to begin with because I only have a restaurant background??


I haven't found any good job posting websites either. And Craigslists and Culintro rarely have anything.


If anyone can shed some light into how they or people they know managed to make the move from restaurants to private households I would greatly appreciate it, because it is my dream professionally to make this transition sometime in the near future.


Thanks all.

post #2 of 11

@Brandon ODell should be able to shed some light on this.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'll try to contact him. Thanks.

post #4 of 11

Hi GabeCR---


I feel your pain!  Most all of my experience is "life" experience but I did study thru the Culinary Business Academy to be a Personal Chef!

I recently moved to Nashville and thought it would be easy to get a job here as a Private/Personal Chef but I was sadly wrong!  In the meantime, I've been searching every website imaginable and all the good jobs are in the wrong cities but I see lots in your city and of course CA!  I signed up with one called Domestic Herald but nothing for Nashville and even as I search Indeed.com,Careerbuilder.com, etc, others pop up if you put in you are searching for private/personal chef.  I've noticed agencies want a fortune and there is no guarantee!  If I find a specific website on my next search I will send it to you!

Best of luck and hold on that dream!


post #5 of 11

Hey Gabe, I launched a personal chef business in 2012. Shortly after I got my website up, I was contacted by a family looking for a private chef. They didn't want anyone full-time, just several days a week for dinners and someone to travel with them occasionally. I've been working for them for almost 2 years now. I also make lunches for her employees several days a week now. When I'm not working for them, I cook for families who want meals for a week, and do private dinner parties in people's homes.  I'd advise you to set up a website and include tags for Private/Personal Cheffing, and set up a Facebook Business Page. I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you may have. Good luck! It's a lot of fun being a private chef. I have traveled quite a bit (on their private jets) with this family and have had some great adventures. 

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies. I contacted 3 agencies in NYC and sent them my resume. They all said the same things pretty much. That it's hard to get a job at first without previous family experience and references but they will keep me in mind for any positions for new people. We'll see.


The personal/private chef website is a good idea. Thanks. I will definitely start working on it. I've been starting to take pictures of plates and stuff to start building a portfolio.


And I'll definitely contact you with any questions in the future Cat. Thanks.

post #7 of 11
Don't forget to check out kitchensurfing.
post #8 of 11

I made the transition from city worker to private chef and found that it was hard to crack into. I ended up contacting my old business colleagues and associates, offering them private chef services. They knew me and my work ethic and were happy to take me on for a few dinner parties to start with. Once I did that, word spread quickly and creating a website or facebook page after that meant that I could keep generating business. I now go to Scotland with private clients and am lucky to have work every week, 5 days a week.

At one point I thought I really wouldn't be able to make a mark in the market here so I moved to Spain for a year and worked as head chef on a private English owned sailing yacht. I got brilliant contacts, and the lifestyle is good (no burning out). It just gave me a bit on my CV that said Private Chef and not just restaurant work.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Sounds like it worked great for you.


I am slowly taking steps toward it. I have signed up for the kitchen surfing website, although it is just launching here in NYC. And I'm starting to take pictures of food and building a portfolio. I have contacted a few agencies who said they would keep me in their roster should beginner positions come up.


I really hope I can just get a few clients that can start a snowball effect through word of mouth.


Next step will be making a website.

post #10 of 11

This thread is exactly what I have been experiencing. I created a blog and took pictures of every dinner I have made from Thanksgiving to random Saturday Hangover meals hoping to land that gig. I have posted on Craigslist but only get people that think they want a chef until I write out the bill. I have also tried countless amounts of agency to only get shot down. I contemplated making up families and reference just to get a gig. I smell it happening soon. The past clients I have done holiday parties for have put me direct contact with some people that are looking for Private chefs, I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. Until then I'm cooking my ass off lol Happy hunting

post #11 of 11

You can google domestic staffing agencies  that recruit private chefs in your area.

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